From 1990 until 1996, Big Catholic Guilt was recognized as the premier "Industrial" electronic hard rock band from Boston. With innovative studio recordings and a powerhouse live performance, BCG received critical acclaim in New England and far beyond. Winners of the 1992 WBCN Rock and Rock Rumble, 8 nominations in the WFNX / Boston Phoenix Reader's Poll, 3 nominations and 1 victory for a Boston Music Award, appearances on the CMJ charts, holding the #1 song for 3 months running on the WZBC college radio chart and #3 for the year are just a few of the accolades BCG received.
Big Catholic Guilt was formed by Tim Osbourne and Sam Jordan, who remain the central core of the group through a number of personnel changes. Tim and Sam met in the late 80's while performing as drummer (Tim) and bassist (Sam) for bands in the Boston area. Tim shared his keen interest and knowledge of sampling and computer generated music with Sam, who also was already developing interest of his own in groups like Ministry, Skinny Puppy, and the like. So it was natural that when Sam wrote his first sample based live rock song (It Ends the Same), that he would call Tim to perform on and help develop and produce the track.
Sam's friend Jon Alper suggested that the duo call producer and studio owner Lamar Lowder. It Ends the Same was tracked at Lamar's in one afternoon, with first take vocals and guitar tracks, and mixed the next day. On Lamar's suggestion, the decision was made to release the track to radio stations, which meant a name was needed. Big Catholic Guilt was chosen, a rejected title from a past group Sam had performed with who was searching for a new moniker. It fit perfectly for the sound, the times, and the region.
The team was pleased to see the song quickly receive high volume play and rise up the local charts. The success fueled both Tim and Sam to write more, and soon Uncle was released. That too, was widely received, particularly on college stations such as WZBC and WBMR. WFNX disk jockey Duane Bruce started playing Uncle on his Saturday night live show at Axis on Lansdowne Street, and word of the new group expanded. BCG was the enigmatic band everyone was talking about. Rumors spread, and pressure grew for live performances to reinforce the high quality recordings.
Again, it was Jon Alper who suggested his friend Jason Kahn to play guitar. Jason called his friend Jon Walsh to play guitar, and Sam enlisted his friend John Mitchell, the drummer for noted Boston group Judy's Tiny Head to help get the group started. This lineup would play the first BCG shows, and the guitarists would remain BCG members for several years, and performed some of the bands highest profile shows.
Auditions were held for a full-time drummer. The job went to veteran Boston Rock God J "Bodo" Potts, formerly of Skin. Later, after leaving BCG, Bodo would go on to form Cobalt 60, and win his second WBCN Rumble title.
In 1991, BCG released their first CD, entitled Possession. Possession was largely a compilation of the original songs recorded with Lamar, and a number of additional, previously not released tracks. The release of Possession was accompanied by a live performance at the Paradise Rock Club that was filmed and played regularly on Boston Cablevision TV.
In its first year in the public eye, BCG would receive 2 Boston Phoenix / WFNX Readers Poll nominations, one for best new act, and one for best rock group.Though through the years they were nominated for a total of eight Phoenix / FNX awards, BCG would never win. However, after performing a total of only eight live shows, BCG would be invited to perform in, and go on to win, the 1992 WBCN Rock and Roll Rumble, sharing the stage that year with such notable acts as Concussion Ensemble, Morphine, Letters to Cleo, Sam Black Church, and Powerman.
That year, continuing in their mission to bridge the space between sequence driven music and live hard rock performance, BCG added a live bassist for the first time. M. Crazz, also a Boston veteran, having played with Mercy Beat (with Jace Wilson, formally of the legendary Boston Group, The Dark), Electric Toys, and Picture This. Crazz, already a friend to several band members, was immediately a perfect fit for the band and elevated the already high standard of the live show to new heights. A consummate and aggressive performer, Crazz added drive and crunch to the BCG sound, delivering a natural feel to the bottom end, both live and in the studio.
Also that year, J. Potts departed, and the drumming position was filled by Perry james. Perry had been playing with many bands in the Boston area, including Ata-Tat, Look One Look, Vow of Silence, Divinity School, and Chainsuck. Later, following BCG, Perry would go on to record and perform with Janet LaValley, tour with Rasputina, and to perform live for the stage production and the movie soundtrack of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, as well as being musical director for the stage production of Hedwig in San Francisco.
It was with this lineup that BCG was approached and signed by Cherrydisc records. While on Cherrydisc, BCG would record Judgement, using much of their Rumble winnings to track the record. Judgement would be BCG's best selling, and most recognized release. Judgement sold thousands of copies, not only in the U.S., but in Europe, where hard-edged rock, industrial and techno was always welcome.
In mid '92, BCG also was nominated for 2 Boston Music Awards, one for Outstanding Hard Rock Group, and one for Sam for Outstanding Male Vocalist. BCG would win the former, with the bands friend Eric Shaun Murphy of Cliffs of Dooneen winning for vocalist. In 1993, BCG would again be nominated for a BMA (for Outstanding Hard Rock Group). Perry and Sam would appear that year as presenters, explaining the rules using vocal samples of all of the BCG members performed on a keyboard on top of a big phat beat.
With the rumble win, a BMA victory, and the release of Judgement, things started happening fast. Amidst a flurry of activity, the two guitarists, Jason and Jon, left the group to pursue other projects. With a full gigging schedule, BCG brought in two of their friends Jay Tullio, and Dean Mahalick. Dean would only play a few gigs, however Jay would stay longer, performing shows and recording on the Damned CD. During this time, BCG played a number of label showcases and industry related events, and travelled more extensively around the New England / New York area.
Crazz and Jay recommended their friend Dan Bongiorno to audition on guitar. He did, and within minutes of the start of the first song, the audition was over, and rehearsal began. Dan was the perfect fit for the group. So much so, that when Jay left for personal reasons, Dan remained as the sole guitarist, and BCG would never play with two guitarists again.
While the buzz on BCG was great, management and legal issues would interfere, and the band was never signed to a major label. In 1994 and 95, BCG played many shows and worked on the Damned CD, produced by Sam and Tim, recorded at New Alliance Studio and Oracle Studio, and mixed at Blue Jay by Mark Tanzer. The CD was picked up for distribution by Young Americans Records, but Young American would go chapter 11 that same year, and the CD undersold expectations.
in 1996, Tim was made an offer he couldn't refuse by a software company based in the Seattle area, and he prepared to leave Boston for good. ON March 29th of that year, Big Catholic Guilt played their highly noted farewell performance at The Rat in Kenmore Square. Though they remained close friends through the years, it was not until 2010 that the group would appear on stage together, when they would perform at the Middle East in Cambridge for a single night.
The Resurrection show took the bands show to a new level. Not only using the highest level of audio technology to multi-track record the performance, the show would be digitally captured by video director Steven Glass with nine cameras, five of them mobile. Those efforts would culminate into the 22 song DVD release, "Resurrection", which would not only contain all of BCG's popular songs, but many new and previously unreleased songs as well. At the time of this writing, the Resurrection pre-release party is forthcoming.
What does the future hold for BCG? More shows? Another studio release? We don't know. But there is no doubt, in the word's of Rick Schettino, then editor of New England Perfomer magazine, "Big Catholic Guilt has built a landmark in the Boston soundscape"